Home | Articles | Features | Modern Teachers

Listings | Community Noticeboard | Chat Board

Life of Osho – Telling it Like it Was

Perhaps suprisingly, no plethora of books have greeted Osho’s life - or death, but hithertoo those that do exist fall unerringly into two types. Either they come from degrees of personal bitterness lacking real self-examination, like Hugh Milne’s “The God that Failed”, or altenatively, they are , with no disrespect, the ‘authorised accounts’. These second, like Juliet Forman’s “The Buddha for the Future” appear to present a public relations picture of Osho devested of some of the parts that make the whole man. Given this paucity of response to the enormous energy and fullness of Osho’s life and work it is now good to have a a book that is neither born of bitterness or public relations, and thereby approaches the real man. For it was this real man that was the main attraction, the unpredictability, the apparent subversion of all societal norms, the enormous cosmic joker, that gave and continues to give ‘liberation’ in its sannyas form real salt and flavour. This type of salt and flavour is perfectly captured in Sam’s intimate account of his life with Osho. To capture the particular frisson and excitement of Poona life in the seventies, is of great value in itself. More importantly it has even greater value for those now arriving at the gates of sannyas, so they too can really taste Osho and not become acquainted with him only through a public relations account.

But the book has another appeal, and that is to those who lived the path with Osho in those crazy, magic years, the wild horse that could not be dismounted, for those fifteen summers and winters between 1975 and 1990. For the book is equal to its task in capturing the lifestyle upheaval, the living with risk, the living on the edge of society that Osho’s world, if fully embraced, involved and arguably still involves. In so doing it acts as a vivid reminder of how a living Master may take one beyond the normal parameters of a life ordained by society’s needs and one’s own, to a life linked to the mystery of the universe it-self – and everything that entails to a judgemental and uncomprehending world. And in addition the book manages to describe the mood of those caught in the maelstrom but not ready for the storm, and throws light on those who misunderstood the whole trip and attempted to reign in the crazy energy of the tornado in the pursuit of personal power. In this sense, more than anything before it, the book aims for a complete picture, both of Osho and what was happening around him, of what in ordinary language is called light and dark. This book therefore describes Osho’s life as reflective of certain mysticisms, devriving in both the east and west (and to which Osho was no stranger), which make the perhaps contentious claim of living beyond good and evil as ordinairily understood.

Sam gives much space to the " light", for example, to the joy of being in love and within the Buddhafield of a tantric master at the same time, which he describes both exquisitely and with insight. And again he captures Osho’s particular nectar of creativity. Sam says “That’s what really got me about him: that he was at once so creative – and I don’t just mean lecture and write books. Osho was creating real life – and yet at the same time was so still and utterly empty.” However, the author also has the courage to discuss what some would judge as the still unanswered questions around Osho's life. His great, but to all but a few at the time, concealed liking for nitrous oxide, the hurry with which the organisation dealt with Osho’s cremation, and Osho's apparent tolerance of his second Secretary Sheela, after it was clear she was totally unequal to the task of the temporal leadership of his commune. Whatever the case Sam puts together a wonderful sub-plot of a detective story around the power of Osho's light, set against what some would still regard as unanswered questions. In so doing the book reads fast and is arguably unputdownable.

What can be said that might develop this book beyond what it is, for it does have the beginnings of a sort of gnostic gospel on Osho? Basically it only has one fault line as far as I can see. Sam still, in the time honoured phrase, wants “to make sense of the mess”. It has been said both in praise and criticism of Samuel Beckett’s plays that none of them fashion an attempt to make sense of the mess. For me, like Beckett’s plays, Osho’s life and work had no reason or rythme in ordinary human terms, there was no master plan, or development of his work. Sam, however, attempts to argue this. For me there is no explanation for some of what Osho did and said, other than to deliberately provoke the mind into incomprehension, and thereby beyond itself. My one, hopefully constructive criticism, is therefore, that Sam still wants to ‘understand’ and give shape to Osho’s work, a master plan of which may just not be there.

I do not think I am alone in saying that some open-minded and rebellious souls have been put off a proper exploration of both Osho and sannyas by diluted or over-devotional accounts of him, both verbal and written. This book redresses the balance, for it will on the contrary appeal to the open-minded and rebellious in equal measure. For those seekers who never met Osho, or for those who want a reminder of how it was, the book is a must. Whilst writing of his own experiences and writing as it were his detective story (based on excellent research) the writer excels. In not being afraid to paint the fullest picture of Osho he is doing everyone a favour, not least posterity.

Life of Osho is available in paperback and free downloadable pdf format at http://www.lofo.da.ru